A tale of two ISPs (and two social networks)

I’ve been increasingly frustrated with the speed, reliability, cost and (worst of all) usage limits on my ADSL service from PlusNet. Last night, following up on some new from a friend about O2, I asked Twitter whether I was mad to be considering switching to O2. With 1000+ Twitter followers (how did that happen?) it’s like being able to conduct a little survey of self selecting participants from a reasonably large pool. Even if only 10% of people who follow me read it, and even if 10% of these people reply, that’s still a couple of handfuls of useful feedback. Of course, Twitter is more to me than a survey machine, and rarely do I ask questions directly of my personal clan, but when I do I’m increasingly excited by the results.

Here are some of the responses (I grabbed it via search.twitter.com, so it doesn’t include anyone with a protected Twitter feed).

Twitter responses re ISP quetion

I was particularly impressed that someone from PlusNet noticed and replied to me, asking if there was something specific they could help me with. It’s a brilliant use of the tool, and I want to congratulate them for it, but it’s not enough to make me want to stay with them. While their customer service has always been excellent, and this latest example is really very impressive, my problems with PlusNet lie elsewhere.

In addition to the feedback on Twitter, there’s also Facebook. I actually pay very little attention to Facebook, but I do have it set up to automatically update my status based on Twitter (which is where a good chunk of my online attention is).

Facebook responses re ISP question

Although it’s a little clunky (I never remember that response to Twitter’s question of “What are you doing right now?” is being slurped into Facebook’s “X is…” model, which can makes the syntax is a little weird) it’s a good extension. I occasionally feel guilty about not paying more attention to my friends on Facebook, because it’s usually a pretty one-way experience for me at the moment, but when people reply to my Twitter-injected status updates (either as a comment or on my wall) I’m reminded of people I have sometimes not seen for a very long time. Handily, when someone comments on my status, I get notified via email (which is one of the very few ways Facebook demands my attention these days) so I can log in and reply. I like the way my Twitter experience is extended into a whole other group of friends in this way. I often get into conversations that wouldn’t happen on Twitter alone, because many of my friends on Facebook don’t use it.

Conclusions:

  • PlusNet have some interesting people experimenting with customer service in an era of social media.
  • I still don’t like their service enough to stick with them.
  • I’ve signed up with O2, and will be switching across soon.
  • I like it when my friends help me make a decision.

I’ve requested (and recieved. I told you their customer services is good) a MAC key from PlusNet to allow me to switch providers. It should take O2 less than a couple of weeks for the switchover, which will hopefully be pretty seamless.

It’s £12.50 per month for 8 megabit ADLS line (only £7.50 if you’re an O2 mobile customer) and £15 (or £10) for. The best bit is the unlimited data, with a fair use policy that seems to actually be about fair use rather than setting a monthly cap.

This monthly limit is quite a differentiating factor for me at the moment. PlusNet offers 2 gigabytes per month for £9.99, 15 gigs for £14.99 (which is the option I’m on at the moment) or 30 gigs for £19.99, and will charge an additional £1 for every gigabyte over the cap. I know they have to pay for bandwidth, but it’s a bit steep. At least they’re honest and open about why they’re not offering ‘unlimited’ bandwidth though; it’s undoubtedly better to be up front about your fair use limits than call it ‘unlimited’ but hide a fair use cap in the small print.

O2 really does seem to be offering genuinely unlimited bandwidth with a genuine fair use policy though. From their broadband terms and conditions:

4 What about excessive network usage?

There is no limit on the monthly network usage. However if we feel that your activities are so excessive that other customers are detrimentally affected, we may give you a written warning (by email or otherwise). In extreme circumstances, if the levels of activity do not immediately decrease after the warning, we may terminate or suspend your Services.

Assuming they’re true to their word (and initial research makes this seem likely), it seems like a good deal.

9 Comments

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  1. just made the switch from idnet -> o2 a couple of weeks ago and not regretting it either. Seems (counterintuitively) o2 is a good choice currently!

    Comment by barnybug — October 11, 2008 #

  2. The reason O2 is a good choice these days is because they bought Be. Be had amateurish customer service, but they really got what broadband was all about and why people wanted it. So far it looks like O2 have taken the best of both.

    Comment by kyb — October 11, 2008 #

  3. I’m happy with plus.net’s up-front clear definition of limited. The one time I had a problem, ssh to a non-standard port used by IPCop, my technical query got straight through to someone that fully understood first time and they added that port to the list they treated as interactive rather than have it lumped into the `unrecognised’ bin.

    Don’t the excess GiBs get cheaper if you buy them in advance — I’m not sure as I’ve never needed them? Anyway, if you really need the unlimited bandwidth then there’s an argument that I’d prefer you to migrate to O2 and use their bandwidth rather than stick here on plus.net. ;-)

    Comment by Ralph Corderoy — October 11, 2008 #

  4. Barney, Kyb: thanks. Good to know.

    Ralph: It’s not as if I expect to be using hundreds of gigs in a month. In fact, most months I get to near the end of my billing cycle and get a couple of emails saying I’ve exceeded the monthly allowance and will be charged £1 for the next gig, so I’m always torn between upgrading and being more careful. My current usage (lots of web, some iPlayer, gaming, …) seems to come to between 15 and 20 gigs per month, which I don’t think is over-the-top. It’s clearly much cheaper for me to go with O2 at the moment.

    Comment by Roo — October 11, 2008 #

  5. O2 works for me. Bit miffed to pay £5 extra pm to access port 25 mail, but the service seems great so far.

    Comment by Lee Bryant — October 11, 2008 #

  6. Hey Roo. Great post. I’m from Plusnet (http://www.twitter.com/kelly_plusnet) and just want to make sure you’ve got details on your account explaining your issues with our service so we can learn from them.

    Thanks.

    (Found this blog via a tweet from graham_alton btw)

    Comment by Kelly — October 14, 2008 #

  7. Hi Kelly. I’ve put a link to this blog post in the ticket associated with my MAC key request (ID: 26605620). It comes down to being annoyed about the limited usage policy. Once I started to consider upgrading my account to avoid the monthly cap, I realised there were cheaper and better deals elsewhere.

    Once again, I’m very impressed with PlusNet’s customer service. Your comment here (and your presences on Twitter) are brilliant. I only wish the rest of what you offer (speed, price, usage limits) were as good as the customer service.

    Comment by Roo — October 14, 2008 #

  8. Hi Roo,

    Your Twitter->Facebook experience sounds eerily similar to mine. There’s lots of value in pushing my Twitter updates to Facebook (I’ve even got into the habit of Facebook-style verbifying them) as they get to a largely different group of friends.

    Good to hear about O2. I’m with PlusNet at the moment, but am only getting 700 Kbps downstream – very frustrating. I was considering Bethere, but if O2 is cheaper anyway then I may jump ship there. I’m going to be an O2 mobile customer (through work – does that count?) soon as well, which would bring the price of the ADSL down further.

    Comment by Tim Beadle — October 17, 2008 #

  9. Hi Roo,

    After your recent post about using Twitter where you mention the switch from Plusnet to O2, you’ve reminded me I’m going through a similar process right now and have a blog entry of my own on the subject now.

    Wondering how you’re getting on with O2???

    Graham

    Comment by Graham White — January 12, 2009 #

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